Davida Smyth


Davida S. Smyth received her Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Dublin, Trinity College, Ireland, and completed her postdoctoral training at New York Medical College, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and New York University. She has served as Associate Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Natural Sciences in Mercy College’s School of Health and Natural Sciences. There she taught environmental science, introductory biology, microbiology, and genetics and developed classroom-based research experiences in microbial genomics. Previously, she was an Assistant Research Scientist in Richard Novicks lab at NYU Langone Medical Center, was an Adjunct Lecturer for the online Masters in Bioinformatics program at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and an Assistant Professor of Biology at New York City College of Technology (NYCCT). Her research focus is on the field of microbial epidemiology and genomics and she has more than 20 original articles in peer-reviewed journals. She is an Associate Editor for BMC Infectious Diseases and Frontiers in Microbiology. She is an external committee member for Mercy Colleges Adjunct Academy component of their Inclusive Excellence Project and Peer-Led Team Learning Program for Biology, Chemistry, and Psychology students. In 2019, she was invited to the steering committee of the Research Experiences in Microbiomes Network (REMNet) of CUNY and became a Co-PI in 2020. At the New School, she directed the Biosafety Level 2 research lab. She developed several new courses that involve undergraduates in research and incorporate civic engagement and social justice into the curriculum. Her freshman seminar "How the Toilet Changed the World" taught students about the role and impact of sanitation on our society and about the ongoing and future challenges associated with both access to toilets and sustainable toilet design. Her "Microbial Ecologies" course taught students about the importance of microbes in our world and how we need to protect and preserve microbial diversity for planetary health. Students also participated in Tiny Earth, searching for novel antibiotic-producing microbes from the NYC urban soil and water environments. Her "Evolution, Mutation and Computation" class exposed students to coded lifeforms "avidians" and students performed experiments on a digital platform called Avida-Ed. Her "Microbiome of Urban Spaces" course involved students in studying the microbiome of our built spaces. Students chose their own research site and studied it using next-generation sequencing technology and an iSeq sequencer. Dr. Smyth also mentored students as part of the Urban Barcode Research Program of Cold Spring Harbor Labs. In 2020 she was awarded funding from the NYC DEP and the National Science Foundation to study microbial transmission on the New School campus. The project website can be found here.

She is devoted to undergraduate research and her students have presented their work at several national and international meetings including the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), and the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) annual conference. With her undergraduate team, she researches the role of the built environment and anthropogenic activity in driving antibiotic resistance, a major global health threat. She also engages in pedagogical research on improving civic and scientific literacy in biology and integrating authentic research into the curriculum to improve student engagement and success in science. Dr. Smyth also guides and mentors future faculty and adjuncts to successfully apply for academic positions in teaching and beyond. Since 2014, she has been involved with SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) and was appointed a SENCER Senior Leadership Fellow in 2018. She was awarded the Mercy College Excellence in Teaching Award in 2018. In 2019 she became a PULSE Fellow. In 2020, she was appointed Deputy Director of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement.  In 2021 she was awarded the Faculty Excellence in Advising award from The New School. In 2022, she received the Four Year College and University Section Biology Teaching Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers.

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Research Interests

  • Wastewater Based Epidemiology
  • Airborne transmission of microbes
  • Microbial Ecology and Genomics
  • Antibiotic Resistance in Urban Ecosystems
  • Antimicrobials in the Built Environment
  • Food-Energy-Water Nexus
  • Science Education and Civic Engagement
  • Student Reading Skills in STEM
  • Sustainable Science

Peer-Reviewed Publications (Since 2010)

  1. Narayanan, M., Powers, K., Nagaraj, R., Liou-Mark, J., Smyth, D.S and Knopp-Kelly, M. (2023). Peer leader perspectives from a randomized PLTL implementation in a Hispanic Serving Institution. Accepted to JMBE.
  2. Smyth, D.S., Jordan, T., Seiser, R., Moran, M., Hasagar, U., Sorby, S., Kahl, N., Shachter, A. and Oates, K. (2023). Promoting RAPID Vaccine Science Education at the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic. https://doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.00051-23 ePub ahead of print.
  3. Smyth, D. S., Broderick, N. A., & Goller, C. C. (2023). Editorial: Community series in tools, techniques, and strategies for teaching in a real-world context with microbiology, volume II. Frontiers in Microbiology, 14. DOI: doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2023.1156805
  4. Van Bemmelen, J., Smyth, D.S., and Baaijens, J.A. (2023). AmpliDiff: An Optimized Amplicon Sequencing Approach to Estimating Lineage Abundances in Viral Metagenomes. bioRxiv 2023.07.22.550164; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.07.22.550164
  5. Cancela, F., Ramos, N., Smyth, D.S., Etchebehere, C., Berois, M., Rodríguez, J., Rufo, C., Alemán, A., Borzacconi, L., López, J., González, E., Botto, G., Mirazo, S., & Trujillo, M. (2023). Wastewater surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 genomic populations on a country-wide scale through targeted sequencing. PLoS ONE 18(4): e0284483. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0284483
  6. Skanata, A., Spagnolo, F., Metz, M., Smyth, D.S. and Dennehy, J.J. (2022). Humidity Reduces Rapid and Distant Airborne Dispersal of Viable Viral Particles in Classroom Settings. Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 2022, 9, 7, 632–637. I am a co-corresponding author. DOI: doi.org/10.1021/acs.estlett.2c00243
  7. Smyth, D.S., Chen, S*., Sompanya, G., Metz, M. and Conefrey, T. (2022). How getting friendly with bacteria can promote student appreciation of microbial diversity and their civic scientific literacy. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education 23(2) e00055-22. DOI: doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.00055-22
  8. Hoar, C., Chauvin, F., Katehis, D., Clare, A., McGibbon, H., Castro, E., Patinella, P., Dennehy, J.J., Trujillo, M., Smyth, D.S. and Silverman, A. (2022). Monitoring SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater during New York Citys second wave of COVID-19: Sewershed-level trends and relationships to publicly available clinical testing data. Accepted to Environmental Science, and Technology Letters. DOI: 10.1039/d1ew00747e
  9. Kirby, A.E., Welsh, R.M., Marsh, Z.A., Yu, A.T., Vugia, D.J., Boehm, A.B., Wolfe, M.K., White, B.J.., Matzinger, S.J., Wheeler, A., Bankers, L., Andresen, K., Salatas, C., NYC DEP, Gregory, D.A., Johnson, M.C., Trujillo, M., Kannoly, S., Smyth, D.S, Dennehy, J.J., Sapoval, N., Ensor, K., Treangen, T., Stadler, L.B., Hopkins, L. (2022) Early Evidence of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant in Community Wastewater. MMWR. 71(3);103–105
  10. Smyth, D.S., Trujillo, M., Gregory, D., Cheung, K, Gao, A., Graham, M., Guan, Y., Hoxie, I., Kannoly, S., Kubota, N., Markman, Rushford, C., M., Myat San, K., Sompanya, G*., Spagnolo, F., Suarez, R., Teixeiro, E., Daniels, M., Johnson, M.C., and Dennehy, JJ. (2022). Tracking Cryptic SARS-CoV-2 Lineages Detected in NYC Wastewater. Nature Communications. 13(635). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-28246-3 
  11. Smyth, D., Broderick, N. A., Bowater, L., Goller, C. C., eds. (2021). Tools, Techniques, and Strategies for Teaching in a Real-World Context With Microbiology. Lausanne: Frontiers Media SA. doi: 10.3389/978-2-88971-760-6
  12. Trujillo, M., Cheung, K, Gao, A., Hoxie, I., Kannoly, S., Kubota, N., Myat San, K., Smyth, D.S. and Dennehy, JJ. (2021). Protocol for Safe, Affordable, and Reproducible Isolation and Quantitation of SARS-CoV-2 RNA from Wastewater. PLOS ONE 16(9): e0257454.
  13. Smyth, D.S. and Conefrey, T. (2021). High-Impact Practices for Transforming Online Learning During COVID-19. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice. 21(6)
  14. Goller, C., Vendegrift, M., Cross, W and Smyth, D.S. (2021). Annotating and Co-creating with Hypothes.is and Google Docs. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education. 22(1):22.1.2
  15. Nguyen, A.V., Li, G., Mata, D., Bermudes, O., Fernandez, M., Pubhill, K., Santana, J., Kim, W., Chimbay, E., Eralte, J.*, Metz, M.*, Smyth, D., Orlofsky, A., and Khan, M. (2020). Using Isothermal Loop Amplification (LAMP) as a Tool to Involve Undergraduates in High-Impact Educational Practice. Frontiers in Microbiology. 11: 603381.
  16. Smyth, D.S. (2020). COVID-19, Ebola, Measles: Achieving sustainability in the era of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 62:6, 31-40.
  17. Smyth, D.S. & Conefrey, T. (2020). ePortfolios for Civic Scientific Literacy. The International Journal of ePortfolio. 10(1): 1-18.
  18. Perez, S., Seto, J., Smyth, D.S. and Parker, D. (2020). Biological sex influences susceptibility to Acinetobacter baumannii pneumonia in mice. JCI Insight 5(7):e132223
  19. Letcher, E.* and Smyth D.S. (2020) Hitchhikers in Honey: An investigation of the inhibitory mechanisms of bacteria found in honey. Journal of Student Research. 8(2):1-4.
  20. Banks, M.#, Metz, M.*, and Smyth, D.S. (2020). The sustainability challenges facing research and teaching laboratories when going green. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 62(2):4-13.
  21. Yust, A. and Smyth, D.S. (2019). Simulating Bacterial Growth, competition, and resistance with Agent-Based Models and Laboratory Experiments. In An Introduction to Undergraduate Research in Computational and Mathematical Biology: From Birdsongs to Viscosities, Edited by Hannah Callender Highlander, Alex Capaldi, and Carrie Diaz Eaton. Birkhauser.
  22. Sieg, D., Beverly, N., Narayanan, M., Sabbatini, J., Surendran, G., and Smyth, D.S. (2019). Incubating the SENCER ideals with project-based learning and undergraduate research: perspectives from two liberal arts institutions. Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal. 11(1):50-63.
  23. Smyth, D. An authentic course-based research experience in antibiotic resistance and microbial genomics. Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal. 2017 8(2):59-65.
  24. But, J., Brown, PA and Smyth, D.S. Reading Effectively Across the Disciplines (READ): A Strategy to Improve Student Success. Insight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching. 2017. 12:30-50.
  25. Martínez-Rubio R, Quiles-Puchalt N, Martí M, Humphrey S, Ram G, Smyth D, Chen J, Novick RP, Penadés JR. Phage-inducible islands in the Gram-positive cocci. ISME J. 2016 Dec 13. PubMed PMID: 27959343.
  26. Rose HR, Holzman RS, Altman DR, Smyth DS, Wasserman GA, Kafer JM, Wible M, Mendes RE, Torres VJ, Shopsin B. Cytotoxic Virulence Predicts Mortality in Nosocomial Pneumonia Due to Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. J Infect Dis. 2015 Jun 15;211(12):1862-74. PubMed PMID: 25298028.
  27. Mendes RE, Deshpande LM, Smyth DS, Shopsin B, Farrell DJ, Jones RN. Characterization of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains recovered from a phase IV clinical trial for linezolid versus vancomycin for treatment of nosocomial pneumonia. J Clin Microbiol. 2012 Nov;50(11):3694-702. PubMed PMID: 22972817.
  28. Smyth DS, Kafer JM, Wasserman GA, Velickovic L, Mathema B, Holzman RS, Knipe TA, Becker K, von Eiff C, Peters G, Chen L, Kreiswirth BN, Novick RP, Shopsin B. Nasal carriage as a source of agr-defective Staphylococcus aureus J Infect Dis. 2012 Oct;206(8):1168-77. PubMed PMID: 22859823.
  29. Chen L, Shopsin B, Zhao Y, Smyth D, Wasserman GA, Fang C, Liu L, Kreiswirth BN. Real-time nucleic acid sequence-based amplification assay for rapid detection and quantification of agr functionality in clinical Staphylococcus aureus J Clin Microbiol. 2012 Mar;50(3):657-61. PubMed PMID: 22219302.
  30. Smyth DS, Wong A, Robinson DA. Cross-species spread of SCCmec IV subtypes in staphylococci. Infect Genet Evol. 2011 Mar;11(2):446-53. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2010.12.005. PubMed PMID: 21172458.
  31. Guinane CM, Ben Zakour NL, Tormo-Mas MA, Weinert LA, Lowder BV, Cartwright RA, Smyth DS, Smyth CJ, Lindsay JA, Gould KA, Witney A, Hinds J, Bollback JP, Rambaut A, Penadés JR, Fitzgerald JR. Evolutionary genomics of Staphylococcus aureus reveals insights into the origin and molecular basis of ruminant host adaptation. Genome Biol Evol. 2010 Jul 12;2:454-66. PubMed PMID: 20624747.
  32. Chen L, Mediavilla JR, Smyth DS, Chavda KD, Ionescu R, Roberts RB, Robinson DA, Kreiswirth BN. Identification of a novel transposon (Tn6072) and a truncated staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec element in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2010 Aug;54(8):3347-54. PubMed PMID: 20479198.
  33. Smyth DS, McDougal LK, Gran FW, Manoharan A, Enright MC, Song JH, de Lencastre H, Robinson DA. Population structure of a hybrid clonal group of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, ST239-MRSA-III. PLoS One. 2010 Jan 5;5(1):e8582. PubMed PMID: 20062529.
  34. Wong A, Reddy SP, Smyth DS, Aguero-Rosenfeld ME, Sakoulas G, Robinson DA. Polyphyletic emergence of linezolid-resistant staphylococci in the United States. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2010 Feb;54(2):742-8. PubMed PMID: 19933808.
  35. Smyth, D. S., and D.A. Robinson. (2010). Population genetics of Staphylococcus. In Bacterial Population Genetics in Infectious Disease, Edited by D. Ashley Robinson, Daniel Falush and Edward J. Feil. John Wiley & Sons, Inc


Davida Smyth

College Of Arts And Sciences

Department of Natural Sciences

Associate Professor

Sci Tech, Suite 311 Room 311D
(210) 784-2225
View CV

Course Teachings

BIOL 4406 01L Bacteriology Lab Spring 2024 Syllabus
BIOL 4101 001 Seminar-Integrative Biology Spring 2024 Syllabus
BIOL 3104 505 Research Experience in Biology Spring 2024 No Syllabus Attached
BIOL 4406 001 Bacteriology Spring 2024 Syllabus
BIOL 4304 500 Undergrad Research in Biology Spring 2024 No Syllabus Attached
BIOL 5306 201 Thesis Spring 2024 No Syllabus Attached